Monday, July 23, 2007

Los Artesanias

The second day of class was a big day for us, as we had writing class with Michael first thing in the morning, followed by a meeting with the artisans in the afternoon. We started off the day by meeting at a cafe right off a little square about a block from the house and talked about the writing portion of the class. We were sent off to roam the city and do three small exercises:

1. Sit in a public space and write about the sounds you hear.
2. Focus on one color and see where that takes you.
3. Describe what someone is wearing and imagine how they would describe your clothing.

We were also assigned three 1-2 page papers on our reactions to the different activities in Oaxaca. You can see the result of the first writing assignment below.

I left class with Tomo and we wandered a couple of blocks until we ended up inside Santo Domingo church. This is the biggest church in Oaxaca, and though I had passed it on the street many times, I hadn't been inside yet. When I entered, I was stunned. The church was absolutely gorgeous.


I sat in one of the pews in the front of the church and wrote. It was a nice experience being so inspired by the surroundings...that is, until I felt the first pangs of Montezuma's Revenge. Nothing too bad--a couple of the gals in the class have been laid up in bed so i felt pretty lucky, but I did have to leave the church and find a bathroom. :) Needless to say, i haven't been back to the cafe since.

That afternoon, we had a big meeting with all the artisans back at the house. Each of us was to show 2 images or objects: one that was meaningful in some way to us, and a photo of our work. I showed Sew Subversive, as it gave me a chance to talk about Stitch, and the following image, from my thesis project:


For those of you that haven't heard about it, my thesis project was an installation involving three quilts and three books. My thesis statement was that the practice of contemporary crafts was a response to our technologically driven lives. I made three small books, each of which talked about a different reason for why, as a graphic designer, I also feel the need to craft. The stitching on this quilt shows the mouse movements I made designing the final page of the book (sitting on top of the pedestal). Jeremy wrote a Java program for me which tracked my mouse movements and spit them out in vector format. Then I traced the pattern with a pattern wheel and carbon paper and free motion quilted the design.

It was really awesome seeing everyone's work. I had spent a good amount of time with about half of the class, and seeing their work really put them in a new light. We also met Carlitos and Luisa, two students in Oaxaca who are going to be in the class with us. Turns out, we saw Luisa's work at the Mueso de Arte Popular in Mexico City! She did the following glass piece, which I thought was just stunning:


We also saw the work of the artisans. There were five different groups to choose from:

  • Fireworks: Yeah, I don't think CCA knows that some of the kids here will be working with explosives. :)

  • Leather: German and Clara make leather huaraches.

  • Wax: Crispina makes candles and wax flowers that are used in celebrations and funerals.

  • Palm weavers: This group of 22 women make baskets, hats, and other small items. The craftsmanship was incredible. These things were hard as a rocks because they were so tightly woven.

  • Red Clay: The dishes at the house are made by this lady.

There was supposed to be another group: textile weavers, but they didn't show up. I was a little disappointed but I figured I would still be able to work with textiles between the leather people and the palm weavers. The meeting was incredibly long, and we didn't eat lunch until 4:30PM. We were all starving! Incidentally, our lunches are provided at the house, and an incredible chef, Doña Ofelia, who used to cook at Casa Oaxaca (the fanciest hotel in town--the president stays here when he visits Oaxaca). As you can imagine, teh food is fantastic.

After the artisans left, we began the long process of choosing our artisans. I went with leather as my first choice and palm weaving as my second choice. I was seduced by the idea of making shoes. :) In any case, I got my first choice, and I will be working along with Adrien and Katy (my roommates) and Lindsey (Interior Design). Should be interesting!

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